Choosing a Career at this National Careers Week

Author Claire Gourley - NI Operations Manager

For most of my life, working in recruitment for over 28 years, seeing people look for career changes in their later life has become a regular occurrence. Which made me understand that many young people, when leaving education, aren't getting the guidance they need. To choose a career path that, not only would they enjoy, but also builds upon their natural strengths and personality traits.

Because, when we think about it, we are asking 16-year-olds to make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives, at an age where a lot of people don't even understand themselves, never mind what future career they want. That's why for national careers week I wanted to write this blog to offer my options on what to do if you are a student struggling to decide on a career.

Choosing your career

The primary factor behind many students' career choices is money, a lot of people have the misconception that the only reason people work is for money so why not go for the career that gives you the best chance of becoming rich? So what is the problem with this type of thinking?

  • High paying roles will have extremely high competition
  • You will be working 40 plus hour weeks regularly
  • You will have to sacrifice a lot of other things in your life

For these 3 reasons, if you want to do a job that will make you rich, it has to be something you have your heart set on.

So besides money, what can we look at to help you find a job you'll love? Before you start looking at college, university or apprenticeship courses, you need to consider the following:

What subjects do you enjoy and why?
On average you spend 1/3 of your life working so when you do finally enter the workplace, you want to find something you will enjoy.

Once you've identified the subjects you love the most, ask yourself why? What subject do you enjoy? Do you like maths because you love working with numbers? Or is it because you love problem-solving? Do you like Geography because science fascinates you? Or is it learning about Geo-politics? Or what about travel?

What are your strengths?
Once you have identified what you enjoy. I recommended sitting down with a parent, friend or teacher to discuss what you're good at, it can be important to do this with another person because you may find that you underestimate your ability and the person you're with may notice you're a lot better at something then you think.

Once you've highlighted your strengths, look at how they match your interests. You should find your interests and strengths to be quite similar, as we are naturally more interested in what we are good at.

What are your personality traits?
Once you've highlighted your strengths and interests, time to look at your personality, this can be important to find a work environment you'll fit more comfortability in. For example, do you consider yourself an extrovert? In that case, data science may not be the role for you. However, if you're an introvert, a career in sales may not be the best move.

There are thousands of personality tests online to help you find out what working environment is best for you.

Do some research
Once you have found out your strengths, interests and personality type. It's time to start searching the web for roles that fit these 3 key areas. Once you have found a role that might interest you, time to start looking at what you need to do to enter that field. What qualifications will you need? What will be expected of you? What is the average salary? Is that something you'll be ok with? What's the current supply and demand for that role? Is the supply/demand predicted to change? Will automation have an impact on your career path?

At the end of this process, you should have a few options to start exploring for potential career paths. I like using 16 personalities which provides you with a full breakdown of your personality traits and strengths and weakness within.

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide has, at least, helped set you on the right path to finding your dream role. However, I just wanted to conclude this blog with one more important note. Don't fear getting it wrong, you'll never know what new things you'll discover about yourself in the future.

Take it from me, with over 28 years experience in recruitment I have seen many people move careers with ease and find the role they love, what you decide now won't define you forever. If you're struggling to find the right career, sometimes it's best to just give some things a try and see where it takes you, I worked in hospitality, then travelled before I ‘tired’ recruitment and here I am. It’s still never too late to try something new either.

Inflation and its Impact on the UK Labour Market

Inflation is one of the biggest threats facing the UK, with data suggesting prices will double for shoppers in January. Not only is the current UK inflation rate impacting individuals, but it is also going to take a large toll on businesses, with bosses predicting financial losses in 2022. These losses come through a combination of inflation and the national insurance rise, which will be sure to eat up more of customers' disposable income, resulting in large scale cutbacks on spending for a lot of families.

Inflation, a bigger threat than Covid-19
The Totaljobs hiring index, a survey carried out by YouGov every quarter, quizzed 1000 HR decision-makers to understand what would be the biggest threats to the labour market in 2022. The report found the rising cost of living and subsequent effects, to have a larger impact on the labour market than Covid-19 restrictions, High Covid-19 cases, and candidate shortages.

With a combination of skill shortages and a larger demand for higher wages, a lot of businesses face a massive uphill battle for highly skilled staff. Law firms in London are already paying graduates £150,000 starting salary as the demand continues to increase.

How businesses will need to adapt
Now, more than ever, it will be harder for businesses to attract new talent, as seen in the example above. So if you are a business owner, or key decision-maker in your organisation, what steps do you need to take to get the employees that are right for you?

Following a poll conducted on our LinkedIn page, 65% of people believed that remote working will become a priority for people looking for new roles in 2022, with 26% believing higher salary expectations will become the top priority instead. Also on the list was a want for more diverse work (9%).

Therefore, to attract new talent in 2022 you may have to adapt how your business is run. It may be time to review your working conditions to see if there's potential for remote working amongst your staff. You will also need to review the salary and benefits packages you are offering to your employees not just to attract new staff, but to retain the ones you already have. For a full breakdown of retaining staff, you can check out our top 3 tips here.

Lastly, if you are looking for support with your hiring needs, contact us and we will see how we can support you in 2022.

Knowledge is Power as Premiere People Encourages Reverse Mentoring

Young people aren’t the only ones who can benefit from gaining new knowledge, life skills and formidable insight - individuals of all ages can, and should, take advantage. Premiere People’s reverse mentoring programme, pairs knowledge-hungry individuals, with talent of all ages, who share insider information, advice and tips on topics such as; sales, social media, account development, mental health support and more.

Like most good companies Premiere People has always offered a mentoring scheme where traditionally older, more experienced members of staff work with younger employees, to share their wisdom, however, young people aren’t the only ones who can benefit from learning.

More recently Premiere People have encouraged company-wide knowledge sharing to improve employee engagement and retention and support our coaching and personal development culture. The list of topics includes social media, digital marketing, Google apps, LinkedIn, digital networking, technology and apps and job boards/candidate attraction. We have then undertaken a similar process with the more junior members.

Jamie Reynolds, CEO of Cordant, commented:

“I first came across the concept of reverse mentoring when I was working in the US where it has been around for some time but had been slow to gain momentum. Credit for the practice often goes to retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch, who allegedly returned from an overseas trip in 1999 and ordered his top leaders to find a junior-level mentor to teach them computer skills.

“My personal reasons for wanting to explore reverse mentoring were quite simple. The world was changing, social media and virtual interactions were becoming increasingly popular, and in a blink, there was a switch in the art of communication.

“It isn’t that my senior team and I weren’t using technology – of course we were – but the fact is that millennials were born with the Internet at their fingertips - they have literally grown up with it and communicating digitally comes naturally to them. For the members of the Cordant leadership teams, our connection to the millennial generation is largely through parenting, yet ‘Gen-Y’ are increasingly the people we need to influence, sell to and employ, so understanding them is key for future success.

“In addition to sharing skills, having more exposure to the senior team has helped junior professionals to build their confidence. There is now a strong feeling that their voices are being heard and that they are really contributing to the success of the business. As a result of some of the sessions, we are re-evaluating how our middle management communicates within the organisation and looking at ways to empower junior staff to speak up.

As a business, we believe that there will be a number of benefits in developing strong, collaborative relationships throughout the company. It will help us to identify potential talent for succession planning; enable us to offer a fresh look at technology, process, service and customer relationships; develop skills that directly impact business results; and ensure that as a team we have the finger on the pulse of the latest tools, technologies and trends.

Believing that every day is a school day, Jamie provides environments of encouragement. In his own words: “The wonderful opportunities that have been presented to me, come from someone taking a chance on me when I was young. I am proud, privileged and grateful to those who have mentored, encouraged and supported me - shaping my career and impacting my life. I now make it my personal mission, no matter the way, shape or form, to influence others how I can”.

Top Tips On Accomplishing Your New Year Goals

As the new year rolls in, people across the globe start to take action on their new year's resolution. Want to improve your diet? Exercise more? Learn new skills? Attend a new club? Look for a new job? We’ve put together our top tips to help you stay on track with your new year goals in 2022.

Did you know that 2 out of every 3 individuals give up on their new year's resolutions within the first month? Sound familiar? This is often due to setting unrealistic or unspecific goals. Take this example, a popular new year's resolution is to make positive lifestyle changes, either through healthy eating or more exercise. They don't specify and break down their goals, they simply set the task of 'getting fit' or 'being healthy,' which are great goals to set, but you need to create a plan to achieve the larger goal.

When someone sets themself the task 'get fit' there are a considerable amount of questions which arise, such as: How will you get fit? What method will you use? When will you do it? For how long or how far? How will you track your success? When and how will you know when you've achieved this goal?

The same can be said when setting the goal of getting a new job. What job do you want to look for? How much time will you set aside to look for jobs? How will you ensure you'll get through to the interview stage and get that job offer? What will you do when you get offered that new job?

Utilising S.M.A.R.T targets
Now we have a better understanding of what causes people to give up on their new year's resolutions. We can look over what method we can use to achieve everything we want this year, the method in question? S.M.A.R.T targets which stand for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Making a target S.M.A.R.T ensures that it can be monitored and attained within a realistic period. So let's make the above example, finding a new job, S.M.A.R.T so we can see what impact it can truly have.

Let's say you are working in administration but would like to try your hand in accounting. Here’s how you would set out the goal. Instead of 'Find a new job' try:

  • Specific - I want to find a new role as a Trainee accountant so I can begin to follow the career path I want.
  • Measurable - I will do this by finding and applying for 1 - 2 trainee accounting roles a week.
  • Achievable - I will achieve my goal by editing my CV to highlight the qualities that are needed for a career in accountancy. In my free time, I will also work towards any extra qualifications I may need to follow this career path.
  • Relevant - I want a long career in accountancy continuously growing and improving.
  • Time-bound - I would like to have achieved an entry-level role in accounting in 6 months.

By following S.M.A.R.T targets we can set ourselves more precise goals that drastically increase our chances of hitting them instead of just giving up before we have even gotten started.

If one of your resolutions this year is finding a new role. You can check out our jobs page here.

Technology Investment

Your Survival Guide for Working over Christmas

2021 has been a stellar year for the Cordant Group. Part of the reason for that is down to a massive investment in the latest technology within recruitment. Across the board, our investment in the latest video interviewing software, candidate sourcing software and Labour Market Insight analytics (to name a few!) not only keep us up to date, but ahead of the competition.
Prime video interviewing

It's no surprise to anyone that over the last year or so the need for video interviewing has gone through the roof. Cordant’s investment in market-leading software has allowed our consultants to speak directly to candidates up and down the country, even during the long lockdown months.

Industry defining candidate sourcing

One of the largest investments over the previous 12 months has been in industry-leading and game-changing candidate sourcing software. Digging deeper than ever before, this has allowed us to unearth candidates that otherwise may have been missed!

Labour Market Insights

Local area insights software has allowed us to provide our clients with in-depth details of how competitive they are in an area, details such as average salaries and candidate availability. These insights allow both Cordant and our Clients to stay ahead of the market trends and adapt accordingly!

These are just a few of the technologies invested in by Cordant People over the last year, 2022 will bring more challenges and opportunities and the we will keep our eye on the emerging technologies that will help us maintain our influential presence within the market.

The 3 Best Staff Retention Methods

One of the most important - and often least considered - aspects of running an organisation to its maximum efficiency is good staff retention. A high employee turnover can become extremely dangerous for an organisation if ignored. Glassdoor predicts the average cost to hire and train one employee will cost £3,000 and 27.5 days.

In addition, high turnover can cause a drastic drop in employee morale and damage company reputations. Which in turn, will cause highly skilled and most desirable workers to look elsewhere for employment. Furthermore, a study conducted by Deloitte university showed that millennials have the lowest sense of loyalty towards their employers, with over 250,000 millennials reportedly planning to leave their current employer in the next year. Millennials are set to shortly become the majority of the workforce, therefore working on staff retention strategies is more important than ever.

However, just because low retention is a bad thing, that does not mean that high staff retention is good for an organisation, in fact, that too can have some disadvantages for your business. For example, if a business isn’t growing, high staff retention could mean no new hires which risk a lack of fresh ideas coming into the business, something that could be vital to helping your business adapt to the ever-changing needs of the customer.

How to boost your staff retention
So now you know a little more about staff retention and its importance, as well as the advantages and disadvantages here are a few tips to keep your staff retention at a consistent 'good' level.

Pay and Benefit packages
Providing your employees with a generous rate of pay plays a very important role in attracting new staff and retaining your current ones. Furthermore, paying your employees below the industry average will make it almost impossible for you to keep hold of your best staff. To get a better understanding of the average pay of roles across all sectors, you can check out the salary survey that we conducted earlier this year here.

Invest in your employees
A common misconception is that people work just to pick up their wages, which is somewhat true. However, there's so much more to it than that, people want to achieve something, they want to feel like they are working towards an end goal such as S.M.A.R.T targets. People need a sense of purpose which most people get from their work, that's why helping your employees to be better at their jobs is so important; it will help give them a greater sense of purpose and enhance commitment to your brand.

Give your employees the praise they deserve
You may not think it, but ample employee recognition can be a very low-cost way of boosting morale, output and staff retention. A survey done in America by Gallup found that two in three workers had not been praised in the past month, with employees who don't feel frequently recognised twice as likely to leave in the next year. Furthermore, the research found that employees want honest and personal appreciation.

Additionally, not only does clear appreciation show your employees that they are valued, but it also shows the rest of your team/teams what they need to do to get that recognition too. However, it's important to understand that if you decide to start recognising employees that you do it fairly. If you praise one employee for a group task or one employee for doing one thing but not another when they do something similar, this can make people feel like they are being targeted, which in turn, will sap all their morale and cause them to start seeking employment elsewhere.

To conclude, it is vital to retain staff more than ever before, especially with the ongoing ‘great resignation’ which our sister brand StaffGroup covers in detail in this Blog. A combination of the lack of loyalty in Millenials and a poor retention strategy could see you lose employees at a much quicker rate.

Lastly, we ran a poll on our LinkedIn over the last week to get your thoughts on staff retention and the most important methods to keeping employees happy. You can check out the results here.

Minimum wage increase in the UK

As you may have heard, Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer announced during the autumn budget that the minimum wage will be rising to £9.50 for over 23’s starting April 1st 2022. This is an attempt to tackle the rising cost of living due to a combination of Brexit and Covid-19, causing shortages in vital areas of the economy.

This follows business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng saying that inflation in the UK has a real cause for concern with many people across the country struggling to afford fuel, food and transport. There are some critics commenting that the minimum wage increase won’t solve the cost of living crisis, and as prices continue to rise, the salary increase will be swallowed up almost immediately - especially if it continues on the upward trajectory (not to mention the anticipated national insurance hike and universal credit uplift).

Smaller businesses may struggle, especially if they are still fighting to get back on their feet following COVID. This could result in an increase in prices to cover the higher wage outgoings. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality, said the increase would “undoubtedly result in higher prices”, with smaller businesses facing the heaviest burden.

With the above being said, supporters of the minimum wage increase are pleased with the number of individuals receiving the generous rise. Sunak tweeted: “We’re increasing the National Living Wage next year by 6.6%, to £9.50 an hour. For a full-time worker, that’s a pay rise worth over £1,000. It will benefit over 2m of the lowest-paid workers in the country.”

In particular, this increase looks to give a boost to help low-paid, younger workers who “are among the worst hit by the pandemic” (according to the BBC), with the closure of pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants. The increase will give more young people more disposable income so they can get more from their work or, as the Chancellor said, make work pay.

How the Minimum wage will impact your business

If you are an employer, you may be wondering what impact the increase in minimum wage will have on your business. Initially, you may just think that your staff on minimum wage will need an increase, and you would be right. However, you also need to consider your employees currently being paid above minimum wage, especially if their roles are highly skilled and in high demand. Now that the minimum wage has increased these employees might start to think about an increase in their wage too, which will need to be discussed.

A study done in America assesses how an increase in the wages at the bottom of an organisation can cause discontent at the top if wages are not adjusted across the board - read more on this research here. With this in mind, we recommend you be transparent with your staff and have a discussion with your finance team/advisor to ensure the salaries you are offering are reasonable, meet expectations and support staff retention.

To conclude, the increase in minimum wage will have a positive effect on those heavily impacted by the coronavirus and the hike in inflation. However, businesses need to strategise how they are going to respond in order to ensure they can maintain profitability and retain staff (at all levels). It will be interesting to see how the anticipated economic changes this year will impact this announcement.

Returning from Maternity Leave

Returning to the workplace soon and waiting to know what to expect? In this blog, we will discuss maternity leave in detail. What to expect when you first go on maternity leave and what to anticipate when you return.

Choosing which type of maternity leave you want to take
All employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave. However, some people can choose to take different periods off.

Firstly, there is compulsory maternity leave, these 2 weeks all new mothers must take once their baby has been born. This option would usually be chosen from expecting mothers who have agreed to have the child's father or legal guardian take care after the birth, while the mother returns to the workplace or women who do not want a break in their career and have alternative childcare options.

Secondly, you have the choice of ordinary maternity leave, which is 26 weeks after giving birth. Lastly, there is additional maternity leave which is the last 26 weeks or full maternity leave.

Returning to the workplace
So you're ready to return to the workplace and wondering what to expect? There will be a few changes, especially if you have taken the full 52 weeks.

Make sure you are happy at home
The first and most important factor is to make sure you are happy leaving your child with the parent/guardian or child care service you have chosen. It does not matter how good the workplace environment is, if you are constantly worrying about the wellbeing of your child, you will struggle to concentrate and be productive.

Catch up with your team
If you have not been keeping up with your team (or have only been keeping in contact with a few), try and meet up with your colleagues before you return, or in the first few days back, to get up to speed with the wider organisation’s activities. By preparing in advance, you'll be able to feel ‘caught up’ a lot quicker and start working as normal, as there will be no shock surprises on your first day.

Additionally, while on maternity leave you are allowed to work 10 days, these are called ‘keep in touch days’ and can be used to help you keep up to date with the ongoings in the business or attend a training course that might be required to fulfil your role when you return.

Have a meeting with your line manager
Once you have returned to the office the best thing we can recommend is to sit down with your line manager to see what is expected from you as you settle. Managers should be understanding of the situation and allow you some time to get back into the rhythm of working, but this is not guaranteed. This may be the best time to discuss working on a flexible basis for a short while, which will allow you to slowly get used to leaving your child at home as well as for settling back into the workplace.

Coming back after maternity may feel like you’re starting an entirely new job, as a lot can change in a year. If you are wondering how to be successful in your first week back, click here.

Returning to the workplace after an extended period of leave for any reason can be scary, but doing it whilst also leaving your child in the care of someone else can be an extremely stressful step. We hope this guide has helped ease those worries and have assisted your preparation for whatever you decide to do next.

For more tips and tricks, check out our news page here.

How to be Successful in your First Week

Congratulations! You’ve landed a new job, we hope it’s everything you wanted and you have a really positive experience in your new role. As you start your new role, you may be eager to impress your new boss and team. Here are our 10 top tips to having the best possible start in your new role! 

1. Be punctual

Be on time. It is simple, but first impressions count. We would always recommend (if possible) to do a trial run before your first day to ensure you allow plenty of time and aim to arrive 15 minutes early.

2. Network

Wherever possible, network with your new colleagues across all teams and departments. You will learn so much from people; about their roles, projects they’ve been working on, how your departments collaborate... and tips for the best local sandwich shop!

3. Ask Questions

Ask, ask, and ask some more! Asking questions is the best way to learn and ensure you understand everything that is being shared with you. It also demonstrates you’re engaged with who is speaking to you and thinking about how the topic applies to you, how you can improve processes and are genuinely interested.

4. Seek out role models

Is there middle management or someone who started in your role 6-12 months ago? These are great individuals to speak with and ask questions: what have they achieved/learnt? Do they have any tips? What’s been their greatest challenge? Who would they recommend you speak with? Is there anything you can be reading in your spare time?

5. Socialise

Where possible, socialise with your new team. At lunch, go and sit with people in the canteen or, if it’s happening, go and join Friday night drinks at the local pub. Take the opportunity to make new friends and build relationships with your new colleagues. Some people spend more time with their work colleagues than their friends/family, so it’s important you find some common ground.

6. Read

Take the time to read everything that has been sent to you (properly!!). This includes company-wide emails, the organisation’s website, documents sent to you and much more.

7. Be Proactive

Try and recall what was said in your interview - was there anything key or relevant they mentioned your role would be involved with? New projects, rebrands etc. If not, ask what the biggest challenge is for your team and the company, and think, have you got any ideas from previous experience?

However, it is important here to observe first and act second. You want to show your proactive nature and ideas, but it is equally important to get the lay of the land, learn and listen. When you have a solid understanding of the full picture, budget, partners and what your role is to add value, then you can start putting plans together, making suggestions to have an impact.

8. Take Notes

There is a lot of information to absorb in the first week (and month!); everything from your new role responsibilities to IT system logins. We highly recommend you make notes on everything, these will be invaluable and save you from having to repeat questions that you have already been told the answer to in the future.

9. Learn the company culture

Are people chatting in the office or are they very focused? You don’t want to come across as a distraction, likewise, you don’t want to be silent if there is a lot of chatter - try and find some common ground.

Small things like - how long do people take for lunch? Does everyone leave bang on time? A general rule is to follow suit, for your first few weeks anyway, never be the first to leave, but don’t feel you need to be the last either.

10. Ask the question: What does a successful first month/ 6 months look like?

You want to know you’re aspiring towards achievable goals. So talk to your manager and ask the first question, you might also get some new tips or advice on how to fast-track or what to avoid. It also sets you in good stead if you have a probation period or an appraisal - you know what is expected of you to be successful.


We hope these tips serve you well. If you are looking for a reason to put this guide to the test why not apply for a new role through us? To view our latest opportunities, click here

How important is a salary in a job advertisement?

In this blog, we wanted to assess the importance of salary for our candidates when searching for jobs, not only on our website but when searching across job boards and company sites.

We wanted to know how much you value salary information on job listings. Did you put it at the top of your list when you started your job search? Or was there more important information you wanted to see first? The results painted a very clear picture, with 84.38% of respondents stating they would not apply for a role that did not state a salary - or salary range - in the job advert.

This does not come as a great surprise as research shows 67% of candidates prioritise salary when searching for a new role. With the job market being so competitive (job postings reaching a record high and talent shortage becoming increasingly more prominent), if your business is not advertising a salary, you risk losing full engagement on your advert. Furthermore, if you include a salary but your business is not offering competitive remuneration, you risk losing top talent to competitors.

The reason candidates prioritise salary on job ads is to make sure the job is right for them and worth the time applying for it… we work to live, not live to work, right?

Some individuals use pay as an indicator of seniority and suitability - if the salary is too low, the role is probably too junior, likewise, high salaries suggest the role is very senior and might not be right for the individual until they gain more experience. This is a bonus for companies as well, being transparent with salaries could increase the relevance of candidates applying for your position.

In rare cases, people will take a pay cut for a new role; this can be to gain new experience, change career paths or reduce hours. However, the most popular motivator when searching for new jobs is to seek a pay rise and/or an increase in responsibilities.

One of the reasons people search for a new role rather than seeking internal promotion is because they feel more confident negotiating salary with a new employer rather than asking their line manager for a pay rise. A study has found that employees who stay in a role for longer than 2 years can earn 50% less than their counterparts who are willing to jump from job to job. However, we would always recommend going to your manager first and expressing your drive for development; learning new skills, taking on more responsibility or going on a training course might be available for you at your current employer, which could quite possibly result in a pay rise.

In a tight labour market, such as the one we are currently experiencing, having skills that are in high demand gives you extremely high negotiating power; giving you a fantastic opportunity to increase your salary.

If you want to find out if you have an in-demand skill, you can check out the NIdirecits website here.